Two years ago in November I was elated to be hanging out with my dear friend Miranda’s children, eagerly awaiting the news that the twins Miranda was expecting had been born. I was honored to be among the first people to hear the announcement that Henry and Seamus had been welcomed into the world.
About two hours later, I was at home making dinner when I got a text from Miranda. “Get on your face and pray” was all it said.
When more information was revealed, I found out that one of the twins, Henry, has a serious heart defect as well as other complications that accompany it.
And so my journey in the third circle of supporting the Brown family began.
Here’s what I’ve learned about supporting a friend during a tough time.
Not every need is glamorous.
In fact I would go so far as to say that most of the needs you will fill will not be glamorous. Feeding someones pets comes with no prestige what so ever. Visiting in a hospital room with beeping monitors and nurses coming in and out, not exactly an alluring scene. Who gives a crap! Do it anyway!
Find what is ACTUALLY helpful.
Making a meal for my friend is not helpful right now. That’s not to say it won’t ever be helpful, but in this season it’s not the best use of my time and resources. Sitting in a coffee shop listening is one of the best ways for me to love on my friend. Ask how you can help in ways that are really useful to the person you are supporting.
Be a detective.
People want to maintain their dignity, so if you straight out ask “What do you need?” they will probably say “Nothing.”
Keep your eyes peeled and your ear to the ground. Sometimes it’s as simple as an encouraging word or just “I’m here.”
Maybe it’s bigger and more complicated like they need some funds for an up coming medical trip and you get to put together a team and co-host a fundraiser.
Your friend has a lot on their plate and honestly she doesn’t necessarily have the time or the energy to invest in play dates and spa afternoons. You are not her top priority. Get over it. She is not snubbing you or pulling away from your friendship. She really is in the thick of life, figuring out how to navigate a new normal. Be there when she needs you.
Like really listen. Sit and listen. Ask questions. The listen some more.
Keep her in the loop.
Friendships are two way. Don’t dump your problems all over you struggling friend, but do contribute to conversations when it’s appropriate.
Probably the most important thing to remember is this… It’s not about you.
What would you add? Leave me a comment and tell me about your experience with supporting a friend through a tough time.